Member economies of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) need to continue employing fiscal and monetary stimulus support measures to sustain livelihoods, and effectively contain the coronavirus disease as the region faces the prospect of an improved growth.
A new updated report by the APEC Policy Support Unit projects economic growth for the region at 5.7 percent in 2021 and 4.1 percent in 2022.
It said the World Trade Organization (WTO) also expects a 7.2-percent rise in global trade, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts global trade rising by 8.1 percent this year.
To boost economic recovery, the report urged APEC economies to take advantage of digital opportunities even as liquidity assistance to businesses and cash handouts to households need to continue to be provided in the immediate term.
“The pandemic has highlighted the role of innovation and necessitated the move towards digitalization. When fiscal space allows, economies can invest in digital infrastructure, green jobs and new technologies, while also ensuring the upskilling/reskilling of the workforce,” it said.
The report said while vaccines could eventually end the pandemic, universal access to healthcare and widespread immunization is imperative.
Regional fora, like APEC, could play an important role in ensuring a free and rapid flow of vaccines and therapeutics across borders, while it could also launch an intensified information campaign to boost vaccine uptake and combat misinformation, it said.
“Moreover, sharing of information on effective vaccine rollout systems could help economies address logistical and distribution issues,” it added.
The report further said stepped-up regional cooperation efforts is imperative.
It said a regional understanding on effective mass testing, quarantining, travel corridors, and protocols could pave the way towards gradual border reopening.
The report said strengthening trust and coordination among member-economies to boost trade facilitation and resilience of supply chains, especially amid the crucial phase of vaccine acquisition and distribution, remains important.
“And there has never been a more urgent time than now to advance structural reforms that encourage innovation and digitalization, facilitate equitable access to healthcare as well as education and skills training, and promote women’s economic empowerment,” it said.
This as aside from vaccine access and uptake, APEC also has to contend with the unequal impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on various segments of society, especially the poor, women, and the youth, it added.